Page:Stories by Foreign Authors (French III).djvu/105

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95
FATHER AND SON.

together, among the flower-beds where the last roses were blooming, under the apple trees weighted with their heavy harvest, and in the groves where dead leaves were already whirling.

They trotted off together, the old man between the two children, stopping, all of them, to smell a flower or pluck a fruit, while Muquet, the old mountain dog, one-eyed and tawny-coated, followed them, the plume of his tail erect. I would even find my father seated on a bench, a child on either knee, singing as he danced them up and down:

"Une poule sur un mur
 Qui picote du pain dur."

(A chicken on a wall, picking dry bread.)

Those were delightful days, affectionate, careless, joyous, friendly days. How soon they fled! When the moment came for leaving, while our trunks were being piled on the stage that came to fetch us, my father, for an instant, was near breaking down. But he was a valiant old man who had learned from life the high virtue of resignation; he straightened up to his great stature, steadied his glance, and smiled with a touch of bravado, so the farewells were gayly got through with—farewells, alas! that might be for ever.

"Adieu, grandfather, adieu."

"Au revoir, little ones, come again soon, eh?"

"Yes, oh, yes, next year."